Tag Archive | 1940s

Learning from History Part 2- Special Care Items

Getting ready for the new windows and siding interfered with working more on this series.  Then the sewing machine was gone for 3 weeks so I haven’t been able to apply the one item I wanted to try out on the new dress pants I had got for a conference yet.

The next section in the book is Special Care garments.  This section is a mix bag of being too out-of date for modern times and some really good tips.  Some of the special care garments I just don’t have like a corset, rubber apron or ties.  As much as I think hats are pretty, I have to admit that I just don’t have the lifestyle that requires a hat so those tips are not as useful.

There is a big section on leather shoes and boots.  I don’t own a leather shoes.  Most of what I have are most likely vinyl based man- made materials.  However, I did find it interesting that the book suggested soaking your feet in cold water after removing your shoes for the day to prevent perspiration the next day.

Other tips in the towel section are outdated like take your towel with you to the hairdresser.  I think the health policies would prevent you from being able to do this.

Towel section also recommends hanging towels outside, which I can’t do because of allergies.  I really don’t want to be sneezing every time I pick up a towel.

Some of the tips I actually already do! For knitted wool garments, it states to never hang them.  I already fold my sweaters and place them on a shelf in my closet (now in a plastic tub since I reorganized my closet).

The one tip that I will definitely be doing is the sewing a piece of material on the inside of trousers/ pants to prevent the fabric from wearing thin from rubbing against your shoes.

Up next in the series is learning to mend.  I was able to find a darning mushroom and a darning egg at Fabric Recycle recently.



Molly’s Floral Dress- K&R Vintage Patterns (S3234)

I was able to sneak another doll outfit in between items for my dad. This time it was Molly’s turn for a new dress.  For Molly’s new dress, I decided to try out a new pattern designer, K&R Vintage patterns.  The patterns are scaled down children’s sewing patterns.  It was nice to be able to say you made a real 1940’s dress for your doll. The one I chose was Simplicity 3234 (rough estimate of 1940-ish).

This was another time that my fabric stash let me down. I just couldn’t find anything in it that fit my vision of what Molly’s dress should look like.  So it was another trip to the fabric store.  There I came across this lovely aqua floral quilting cotton that ended up being perfect.  I decided against trim for the collar of the dress and opted for letting the print be the main focal point.  I figured the dress could be trim-less because Molly didn’t have enough rationing coupons for lace.

I only made the dress, but I did notice that the cutting layout has you include an item for the pinafore (Pinafore Belt N) on the dress layout. If you are just making the dress, it isn’t needed.  If you are making the pinafore, you probably should decide whether you want it out of the pinafore fabric or the dress fabric.

I didn’t do any pattern alternations even though I know Molly is on the larger size of dolls. However, I knew that I was not going to keep the button back closure.  I inserted the collar.  For the lining I only stitched the neckline seams (I didn’t continue it down the sides).  Then the bodice and lining were ironed flat.  Sleeves were stitched to both outer fabric and lining then ran through the serger for seam finishing.  I really didn’t want to hand sew the lining to the sleeve.  Bottom of bodice (and lining) were basted for gathering into the “belt” waistband pieces.  The bodice was attached to the waistband.  Skirt was attached to waistband.  Then I measured to find where the center back was on the pattern piece.  It was half-inch from raw edge.  My Velcro is quarter-inch wide, so I subtracted that out from the half-inch and used a three-eighth seam allowance for the back.

Overall, the pattern was fairly easy to put together.  Since, it is a scale down of the 1940s children’s sewing pattern, the instruction may confuse a new seamstress.  In the center is the original pattern instructions.  The instructions along the sides is how you put together your doll dress.  I did print out the instructions just because I was not certain about the instructions layout.  But otherwise, it was easy to follow.

Slowly working through my dolls, next up will be Melody.  I have a Butterick pattern picked out and some fabric.  I just need to decide what fabric to use for the jacket.



Fun in the 1940’s- McCall 4785


Back to a vintage pattern for my next top.  I picked up McCall 4785 a couple of months ago when I was looking for vintage dress patterns.  The pattern is copyrighted 1942.  Much to my surprise, the pattern looks like it had never been made.  Only part of the front piece was cut out.  I picked up the pattern because it looked like a nice everyday sort of blouse, so part of me wonders why it was never made.  Was it supposed to be a present and the original seamstress realized it was the wrong size?DSCI0291


I traced out the front and back pattern pieces only.  I added to the side seams for the hip area and graded to nothing at the waist.  I used the same cotton voile that was used for the Deer & Doe Blouse Airelle (I need to remember to get better pictures of this one) which should work well for the button down blouse.  I used some ribbon to hem the top so I was able to keep some length.


I really like the fit of this top.  I definitely should put in with the Deer & Doe Airelle blouse as patterns to turn to when in need of a top.  Next time I make this I will definitely be adding at least two inches to the length (at the bottom) and I think I may also bring in the side seams a touch too from arm to waist area.

With Me-Made-May coming up, April has been the month of separates.  I still have a Deer & Doe Airelle blouse to blog and a Maria Denmark Kirsten Kimono tee done.  I am currently working on a new skirt.  I am not sure if I have enough for a whole month so I plan on seeing how many days out of the 31 I wear me-made items.  The past couple weeks, the average has been 3 days of me-made items.


What to do with the Left-over fabric? Heritage Doll Fashion Bubblegum


So after cutting out my plaid summer dress, I was adding a lot more fabric to the odds & ends fabric scrap pile.  The stuff that is not enough to make an article of clothing for me but too large to just throw away.  I don’t quilt so the amount is starting to overrun the box it is in.

I thought about making more items for Toby.  (Toby is probably thinking I have way too much time available and to not make anything for him.  Halloween is one outfit too many.)  One day when I opened up my closet, I remembered about the American Girl dolls I have.  I own four of them altogether (Felicity, Kristen, Samantha, and Molly); two were originally my sister’s dolls but she didn’t want them anymore.  Those scraps of fabric will work out perfect for making doll clothes for them.  Also, I may be able to donate the extra clothes I make for the dolls to either Toys for Tots or the Christmas Worthy.  I am sure Toby heaved a sigh of relieve as I am typing this.  Granted I may still make him a t-shirt out of the orange plaid cotton so he can have an outfit to match my summer dress.

After spending a couple of hours cleaning up all four doll and washing their laundry by hand.  Apparently my kitchen island isn’t big enough for the laundry of 3 American girls.  They cleaned up very well for being a box for several years.  I told my dad he gets the privilege of going to the American Girl store to shop for socks, panties, and stockings.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to get him to come with me four different times so that is why all four were cleaned at once.  I think I am going to display them in the living room.

So, first up on this American Girl sewing adventure is Heritage Doll Fashions “Bubble Gum” 1940s dress for Molly.  I got the pattern from an Etsy store.  It is an easy to use pdf pattern.  I used the orange plaid cotton I had left over from McCall’s 6340 dress.  Colors may not be historically accurate but at least the fabric will be.

As far as I can figure my American girl dolls were purchased around 1992 to 1995 (at the latest).  I am providing Molly’s measurements just as a comparison for anyone who is making this for a more modern doll.  I know there are differences between new and old but I am not sure how much.  From what I read on the internet, my older dolls are chubbier than the new ones.

Bust:  11.5 inches

Waist: 11 inches

Hips: 13 inches

In the end the waistband area seems a little tight on Molly.  I am not sure if it is because of Molly’s waist or just seam bulk.  If anything an additional quarter of an inch would probably make the waist fit better.  The bodice of the dress fit Molly just perfectly.

Looking at the pattern, I thought the hardest part of the pattern would be the rounded yoke.  It was not.  The hardest part turns out to be the sleeves.  So be prepared for that.  During construction, I went ahead and basted the lining and the bodice together at the side seams and the waistband to make it easier to sew.

Vogue 8728- circa 1946

Vogue 8727- Vintage Vogue from 1946

It looks like I am advancing in sewing skill level (maybe)?  Vogue rates 8728 at an average and I didn’t have too much difficulties with it. The seam finishes may not be the best.  They are nice but I probably should have used flat felled or something else.  I had to redo the zipper.  I tried using the sewing machine to put it in and it looks horrible.  I am definitely better at hand picking zippers.  Tailor tacking is getting better.

Vogue 8728

If I make it again, I really need to add an extra inch or so to the waist.  I used half inch seams for the sides.  My goodness that puppy is tight.  I cut a size 14 all over.  It worked well in the bust and hips- not the waist.  Adding extra to the waist may cause one to lose some of the gathers in the bust and skirt.  For the skirt that is alright.  I am not so sure about the bust area losing gathers.  Since I am petite, I had to take about 4 inches off the hem of the skirt.  I used a 3 inch hem instead of a 2 inch hem so that I would have a knee length dress.

I used a rayon/ poly blend that had a linen look to it.  The texture doesn’t take away from the pattern.  It is the same type of fabric I had used for my 1964 Simplicity 5267 except that it is in more of a peachy coral color.  I am not exactly in love with the dress but I do like it.

Marilyn’s “Niagara” Wrap-skirt

An absolutely intriguing movie is Niagara (1953) with Marilyn Monroe and Joseph Cotton. It is a suspense thriller with Niagara Falls setting a dramatic backdrop.  One of the outfits that caught my attention was the wrap skirt and swing jacket that Rose (Monroe’s character) wears to the bus station to get tickets to Chicago.  That outfit always looks so lovely and elegant.

So after looking at the pattern (McCall’s 5840) closer and watching the movie many times, this skirt was still stuck in my imagination.  While looking at the local fabric store one night, I came across this wool blend at ½ off.  The grey is such a similar color as the skirt in the movie that I knew it was destined to be my version of the wrap skirt in Niagara.

After finishing the wrap-around skirt and the 1960’s straight-line dress for the Vintage contest for pattern review, I decided since I still had a week left before the contest deadline, I would go ahead and work on this pattern for the Vintage contest also.  It looks fairly simple right with 6 darts, 4 seams, waistband and such?

I had to take about 6 inches off the bottom of the hem.  Also, I hemmed it another 4 inches.  I added about 4 inches to the waist since the original pattern was too small.   The closure is 4 snaps; 2 snaps in the waistband and 2 snaps in the front side.  I think I may end up going back and adding an additional snap in the waistband.

A wrap skirt just seems to scream that it requires French seam (or am I the only one who thinks that).  So after serging the outside edges of the pieces, I went ahead and started to assemble the back of the skirt with French seams at my parents’ house.  That means I was using a sewing machine (1970’s Singer Stylist 417) I wasn’t comfortable with yet.  (I had picked it up over the summer at a garage sale for $45 with the table so I had a machine at my parents. In January it went to the sewing machine doctor to get fixed since it hadn’t been used too much and needed some TLC.)  So the French seams really lend to the polish look of the garment.

The pattern envelope didn’t look as A-line as the skirt came out.  I was wanting more of a pencil look to replicate the skirt in “Niagara”, but the A-line looks fine.  I still have a nice classic style of skirt.